Manufacturing has long been a powerhouse for the U.S. Economy, providing jobs, increasing international relations and improving the overall standard of living.  For every dollar that is put towards manufacturing, the U.S. economy receives a return of $1.37 and for every 100 jobs in manufacturing, 250 positions are created elsewhere. In a nutshell, manufacturing does matter.

However, over the past 10 years some of the most difficult jobs to fill have included skilled trade workers, technicians, engineers, machinist, mechanics and more. Employers see their inability to fill positions based on a lack of applicants and lack of experience, among many other factors, which affect their ability to service their clients and operate effectively. The gap is going to further widen as the baby boomer generation retires (38 percent of employees plan to leave their jobs within the next 10 years) and 700,000 jobs are likely to be created due to economic expansion. Three quarters of manufacturing executives believe that the talent shortage will put a strain on production levels and meeting customer demands. The need for longer workforce hours not only puts pressure on the workers, but also leads to a decrease in overall productivity. Meeting business goals on limited resources is draining on the manufacturing executives and their available resources.

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Courtesy of The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte
Business Areas Affected Most_SkillsGapBlog               Courtesy of The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte

Americans hold manufacturing as a critical piece of the economy, providing a strong backbone for job creation within their communities. Americans see U.S. manufacturing as an industry with desired competitive advantages in a technologically innovating world, including the capabilities of research, energy and emerging technologies for production and quality improvements.  Despite holding manufacturing as an integral component of economic success, most Americans prefer that the jobs be held by someone else (Generation Y ranking it the least desirable out of 7 field options). Furthermore, less than half of Americans believe the U.S. is now a force in the global market. Respondents are looking to government assistance for a more strategic approach towards developing the manufacturing industry and providing funding. The most commonly cited factor in discouraging a manufacturing career is jobs lost overseas. With respondents valuing benefits, rewarding work and skills growth as the biggest factors in selecting a career, it is not a surprise that outsourcing possibilities could discourage encouraging youth. Not only are about 37 percent of parents encouraging manufacturing among their children(children viewed it much less at 19 percent), but respondents also believe that a small portion of students are prepared for manufacturing and an even smaller portion of schools are encouraging manufacturing careers.

Millennials are the next generation in line to take over and yet they opt out of manufacturing and other labor fields due to negative image of the field. According to a poll conducted by the Foundation of Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, manufacturing is viewed as “dirty and dangerous” requiring “little thinking or skill from its workers and offers minimal opportunity for personal growth or career advancement” as opposed to clean, safe, challenging, rewarding and high-tech. Many manufacturers say that Millennials currently occupy a very small portion of the existing workforce and about 81 percent of them do not plan to increase these numbers. In addition to the retirement of the baby boomers, advancing technologies, such as 3D printing, are bringing about a plethora of different career opportunities. As manufacturing has long prided itself on its thirst for innovation and with the growing need for digital integration in business practices, Millennials should be the most sought after choice. Understanding the skills gap that is effecting manufacturing and finding ways to address the issue is only one step; the rest remains up to the education system, the parents and the employers to fix the stigma and cultivate a skilled workforce. In a worldwide survey of nearly 8,000 Millennials, a vast majority of respondents believed that the skills they gained on the job post-graduation carried more weight in achieving the goals of their organization in comparison to the knowledge gained through university education.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.40.56 AM Courtesy of Deloitte

Training millennials to become valued employees begins the moment they are hired. Millennials are eager to bring their talents to the table and learn how their role plays in the big picture. Creating a strong onboarding process, formal training program based in nurturing knowledge and skills for their positions, experiential learning, and continual education are factors that contribute to building a successful member of the workforce. Some institutions will either move employees and require them to share their learning with the team when they return or do in-house educational courses which can be accessed by the employees online and relate directly to what the employee does every day.  Lastly, investing time in weekly reviews, meetings and training from managers has been an appealing approach for millennials when compared to other practices. With workplace hands-on training showing a positive effect on millennials, offering apprenticeships in addition to internships would give them the related training necessary to become a skilled worker moving forward. The Manufacturing Institute, Alcoa, Siemens, and DOW collaborated on an Apprenticeship Playbook consisting of, “a formal structure defining expected learning outcomes and advancement pathways,” to successfully up-skill, “the manufacturing workforce to meet the current and future needs of advanced manufacturing.” This year, President Obama and the Nation celebrated the first ever National Apprenticeship Week (hashtags: ) which encouraged employers, laborers, educators, organizations, and all levels of government to advocate and work towards using apprenticeships for training a skilled workforce. Apprenticeships have been shown on average to increase the the compensation of a worker and garner a greater returned investment for ever dollar spent on apprenticeship training. When surveyed, respondents looked favorably upon education and career programs aimed at increasing interest in the industry, with apprenticeships indicating the highest area of interest.


Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.24.48 AMCourtesy of The Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte 
Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 11.00.09 AMCourtesy of Tooling U


The Fastener Industry has responded to the need for industry success by offering opportunities for training at all levels.  Fastener Training Institute hosts webinars, courses, certification training and a variety educational avenues for the advancement of “fastener use, reliability and safety” through “product and technical training at all levels.”  The American Fastener Journal offers access to fastener training books, posters and more at the Fastener Journal Store.  Educational materials can also be obtained and accessed on the Industrial Fasteners Institute (IFI) website, including the IFI Technology Connection (ITC). The ITC is a comprehensive resource for various types of fasteners and fastener related tasks such as choosing an inspection sample size, fastener weights, fastener test requirements and more. Tooling U-SME offers more than 500 unique online classes on product and service training, utilizing competency-based learning solutions that are shaped around a desired outcome in order to advance workforce skills in a way that best benefits the individual’s position, company and customers. Chad Schron of Tooling U-SME believes that the key to success understanding and committing to employees which “helps drive competitiveness” and is important when considering “the existing and pending talent shortages.” The talent shortage, he says that the “gap is a major challenge for many manufacturers due to limited employee pipeline, a retiring workforce, re-shoring and the changing pace of technology” with only 39 percent of manufacturers close to world-class manufacturing status, meaning there is a lot of room for necessary improvement. Recently, the Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute and Coursera have signed a partnership establish online digital manufacturing and design courses. With all education materials considered, continuous learning for new and current employees is simplified and readily available. Utilizing apprenticeships and on-the-job training is the best way to give millennials and current employees the skills they know they need to succeed, the skills their employers know will lead to success and the skills that will advance the industry and overall economy forward.

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Fastener Training Institute

12-18-2015Webinar: Fastener War StoriesWebinar
11:00 a.m. PDT,
01-05-2016Product Training Part 1FTI Training Facility
Pico Rivera,
02-02-2016Product Training Part 2FTI Training Facility
Pico Rivera,
02-15-2016FTI/IFI Fastener Training Week – Los Angeles (CFS Classes)Holiday Inn
La Mirada,
03-01-2016Product Training Part 3FTI Training Facility
Pico Rivera,
03-16-2016Understanding Hydrogen Embrittlement in FastenersDoubleTree Wood Dale-Elk Grove
Wood Dale,
04-05-2016Fastener Manufacturing Plant Tour (CFS Class)Various Locations
Los Angeles,
04-20-2016FTI/IFI Automotive Fastener TechnologyEmbassy Suites Troy/Auburn Hills


Past Events

To spark the interest of the next generation as well today’s workforce, parents, educators and the general public, manufacturers are engaging in initiatives to clear up stigmas, answer questions and raise awareness about the reality of manufacturing. Manufacturing Day was held again this October with over 2,600 events hosted nationally and internationally in honor of the history of manufacturing and how it is growing. The Manufacturing Institute is also working to end the misconceptions through the Dream It. Do It. Initiative which offers resources to aid in pro-manufacturing efforts. In 2014, 365,000 students, 43,000 educators and 27,000 parents were engaged by the initiative. Further improvements must happen within the walls of a company and include improvements of hiring methods, defining goals when hired, spotlighting potential, and executing continuous training and hiring of existing employees in to new positions.

7A844B6EFE7D464491B597EE3387F188-1.ashxCourtesy of The Manufacturing Institute 

Manufacturing and related industries are evolving beyond repetition and expanding daily tasks for their workforce. This shift has been seen more within five years when compared to the past twenty. As technological advancements are becoming increasingly integrated, such as the Cloud and Internet of things, machines and people within and outside of factories are connecting and soon workers will have instantaneous access to production information from other plants and experts. Companies will grow in competitiveness with increased efficiency, better safety and lower cost and the sooner a company adopts this, the more likely it will hold the competitive advantage. Smart factories and a skilled work force are the future. The future starts now by engaging the workforce and opening up to every possibility for closing the skills gap. Millennials believe that the future is bright, but it is up to the industrial executives to make the change and show it. If new practices become best practices, technology companies may just have to move over and make way for the new industrial revolution.


Related Webinar:

Embracing Millennials: Closing the Manufacturing Skills Gap and Gaining a Competitive Advantage

Related Links:

Fastener Training Institute Upcoming Events

ManpowerGroup Annual Survey Reveals U.S. Talent Shortage Persists

JPMorgan Chase | New Skills at Work: Closing the Skills Gap

Fastener Training Posters

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Manufacturing, Millennials, ToolingU Reports, Training, Workforce / Skills Gap